TMEP 1206.01: Name, Portrait, or Signature of Particular Living Individual

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1206.01    Name, Portrait, or Signature of Particular Living Individual

Section 2(c) explicitly pertains to any name, portrait, or signature that identifies a particular living individual, or a deceased president of the United States during the life of the president’s widow.

Does Not Have to Be Full Name. For purposes of §2(c), a “name” does not have to be the full name of an individual. Section 2(c) applies not only to full names, but also first names, surnames, shortened names, pseudonyms, stage names, titles, or nicknames, if there is evidence that the name identifies a specific living individual who is publicly connected with the business in which the mark is used, or who is so well known that such a connection would be assumed. See In re Hoefflin, 97 USPQ2d 1174, 1177-78 (TTAB 2010) (holding registration of the marks OBAMA PAJAMA, OBAMA BAHAMA PAJAMAS, and BARACK’S JOCKS DRESS TO THE LEFT barred under §2(c) in the absence of consent to register, because they create a direct association with President Barack Obama); In re Sauer, 27 USPQ2d 1073, 1074-75 (TTAB 1993) (holding registration of a mark containing BO, used in connection with a sports ball, barred under §2(c) in the absence of consent to register, because BO is the nickname of a well-known athlete and thus use of the mark would lead to the assumption that he was associated with the goods), aff’d per curiam, 26 F.3d 140 (Fed. Cir. 1994); In re Steak & Ale Rests. of Am., Inc., 185 USPQ 447, 448 (TTAB 1975) (affirming a §2(c) refusal of the mark PRINCE CHARLES because the wording identifies a particular well-known living individual whose consent was not of record); Laub v. Indus. Dev. Labs., Inc., 121 USPQ 595 (TTAB 1959) (sustaining a §2(c)-based opposition to registration of opposer’s surname, LAUB, for use on goods that opposer was associated with, because applicant had not obtained opposer’s written consent); Reed v. Bakers Eng'g & Equip. Co., 100 USPQ 196 (PTO 1954) (holding registration of REED REEL OVEN barred by §2(c) in the absence of written consent to register from the designer and builder of the ovens, Paul N. Reed); cf. Société Civile Des Domaines Dourthe Frères v. S.A. Consortium Vinicole De Bordeaux Et De La Gironde, 6 USPQ2d 1205, 1209 (TTAB 1988) (“Section 2(c) does not apply to surnames except in those cases where a particular individual is known by a surname alone.”).

Name Could Refer to More Than One Person. The fact that a name appearing in a mark may be the name of more than one person does not negate the requirement for a written consent to registration if the mark identifies, to the relevant public, a particular living individual who is well known or is publicly connected with the business in which the mark is used, or a deceased United States president whose spouse is living. See Steak & Ale Rests., 185 USPQ at 447 (“Even accepting the existence of more than one living ‘PRINCE CHARLES’, it does not follow that each is not a particular living individual.”).

Portraits. Cases involving portraits include In re McKee Baking Co., 218 USPQ 287 (TTAB 1983) (involving a mark consisting of a sign on which the portrait of a young girl appears below the words LITTLE DEBBIE); In re Masucci, 179 USPQ at 829 (involving a mark containing the name and portrait of President Eisenhower); Garden v. Parfumerie Rigaud, Inc., 34 USPQ 30 (Comm’r Pats. 1937) (involving marks containing the name and portrait of petitioner).